Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Facebook Note heard 'round the world

I know it's only been three days, but I'm sort of obsessed with this new plan. I think the reason I'm so excited for it is not so I can run a 5K race at the end of 9 weeks, but it's because I think my whole life will be different. Maybe it will, and maybe it won't, but I need to believe it will otherwise I'll never get off the couch.

Actually, I need to stop myself right there because I've already noticed something that is changing this time. Things won't just be different, I'm going to have to make them different. I was having a conversation with my cousin Emily the other day about how we've always felt that any change in career or relationship or living situation made us think, "Ah ha, NOW I'm going to lose weight/get healthier/be happier." While an external change might be the catalyst, all of the power needed to change a situation still comes from inside. I know that sounds dreadfully banal, but I'm just catching on to this theory now. I feel like John Candy in the Planes, Trains & Automobiles scene when he & Steve Martin are driving on the wrong side of the interstate and the people on the correct side of the interstate are yelling, "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!" John Candy looks at Steve Martin dumbfoundedly and says, "How would he know where we're going?" And onward they go until they are faced with two oncoming semis. Talk about an Ah-ha moment.

So what is my Ah-ha moment? At what point did I decide to take this sinking ship and point it home? (Planes, Trains, Automobiles AND BOATS!) Honestly, I think it's when I read Jan's Facebook note. That girl has inspired the shit out of me-- quite literally, if you read the comments in my last post. So instead of me gushing about it some more, I'll let you have a read for yourselves. Enjoy!

Yes, after 9 weeks of all of you putting up with constant status updates from me about this program, it is finally finished. I did the last day of Couch to 5K this morning. So I thought I'd write a little bit about what this program has involved and what results I've seen since I started.

9 weeks ago, I started Couch to 5K almost on a whim. The first week's schedule is a 5-minute warmup walk, followed by 60 seconds of running and 90 seconds of walking, repeated for 20 minutes. I was winded by the time I finished my 5-minute warmup walk, and I thought the first 60-second run was going to kill me. My heart was pounding, I was out of breath to the point that I couldn't even talk, and I was thinking that maybe I would need to repeat the first week's schedule, oh, maybe a dozen more times, before I would be ready to move on.

But I kept on going. I didn't miss a scheduled run. I was never unable to complete a scheduled run. Every week, I thought to myself that I wouldn't be able to finish this week's scheduled intervals, and then every week I did it anyway. I started sleeping better. I found that I became more flexible. I discovered that I could run up several flights of stairs without getting winded, could chase after my toddler without feeling my heart race.

In week 5 of the program, I completed a 20-minute uninterrupted run and felt like I had climbed a mountain. This is big-time stuff for me. From childhood I have thought of myself as basically sedentary and unathletic, someone who likes reading books but isn't very good at sports and definitely isn't any good at running. But there I was, out on the trail, running for 20 minutes. I started revising my inward opinion of my unathletic nature.

By the time I got the final week, week 9, I was no longer saying things like, "I don't think I can do this week's schedule," or, "I hope I can finish but I probably won't." I had come to realize that my body can do pretty much anything I want it to, as long as I train it slowly and gradually. This morning, I ran for 2.5 miles and felt good at the end. Good! No kidding!

I'm still overweight but I've lost 14 pounds since I started. I've lost 4 inches from my waist and 2 from my hips (but none from my thighs, possibly because I'm building muscle there?). I'm running a 5K in September, a 5-miler on Thanksgiving, and a half-marathon next May.

I think this program is the best thing I have ever done for myself.

So that's my report on Couch to 5K. It probably goes without saying that I would highly recommend this to anyone who is considering a fitness program, especially one involving any sort of running.

Wow, Jan. I got goosebumps all over again. Can't wait for my run tomorrow morning!!

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